Off late, I have been following the “Unlock Bangalore” campaign, started by the Times of India group, which also recently carried out a very successful “Lead India” campaign. Lead India was extremely successful, because it had a clearcut format; a set agenda; and a goal for the participants to achieve. But the UB campaign is very loose in the sense that it is so far only an “opinion pot”. There is no clear agenda; no timeline and most importantly, there is no “authority” to bring about the change. And opinions and suggestiosn have been there for longer than anyone can remember and nothing as so far happend and since nothing else has changed so far, nothing will happen. It is outright stupid to expect different outputs using the same inputs and the same process!

So this whole drama is poised to be reduced to merely the print equivilant of a reality TV discussion, where people come, they criticize, they discuss, and then they go home and forget about it. Below are the reasons, which in my opinion will cause the Unlock Bangalore campaign to fail:

  1. REACH – This campaign is restricted to the readers of the Times of India newspaper. Hence the reach is limited only to this section. The average auto-driver who breaks the traffic rules with impunity, does not even know of this campaign! Moreover it does not have the kind of sustained campaining on all popular media, similar to the widely popular ‘lead India’ campaign by the same organization. Also there is no clear agenda; and a timeline.

  2. MG Road is not Bangalore – most of the campaign is set in and around MG Road. Will someone please tell these people that Bangalore is a lot bigger than that?

  3. THE METHODOLOGY IS OUTDATED – changing the society through newspaper articles, was relevant in the 1940s when people like Jawaharlal Nehru and MK Gandhi used to write rousing pieces to get the masses together for a cause. Trying the samething in today’s times, is firstly not relevant and secondly it is funny because the mass attitude towards newspapers is not the same as it was during pre-independence times, where there was an eagerness to know what the leaders of yore wanted to say! Expecting to do that in today;s time where the average user has zero faith in the government and its corrupt policitans, is ridiculous.

  4. THE PEOPLE ARE CLOSED MINDED – Oh yes! Lets accept this – they really are. In the past couple of week I have encountered this situation more than once, where I have signalled to turn and some jerk has zoomed in and blocked my path. And then the typical Bangalore mentality kicks in….he uses his dipper and then turns off the engine, which signifies, if anybody is going to move it is YOU and not ME. So much for all the education that Bangalore claims its people have! The people here somehow feel that if they have a bigger car, they are ‘more’ correct than the rest, even if they do not follow the rules. There is a complete lack of civic sense in the people of this city. Whenever I drive to work, which is about 18 kms from where I live, I see numerous instances of bad driving, by people who work in my own organization, as well as the neighboring big companies. These are the very same people who claim to have acquired big degrees from the IITs and the IIMs of this country. But somehow they become animals the moment they hit the road. They don’t signal and cut lanes like crazy and they try to sneak into the slightest of gaps that they can find. Probably this stems from a countrywide mentality of scarcity and grab ‘what’ you can, ‘while’ you still can, attitude.

  5. CARPOOL IS NOT THE PANACEA OF TRAFFIC PROBLEMS – The TOI has been pushing carpooling as the one stop solution to all of traffic problems in Bangalore. And it has been preseniting an extremely biased view point of this concept. One look at the paper and the impression you get is that the whole city wants ONLY carpooling and nothing else. It does not present a balanced opinion. Carpooling does not work for everyone. It may work for some people but definitely not for everyone. And carpool cannot eliminate “BAD DRIVING”.

What really can be done?

So that brings us to this stage, where we are beginning to think, can something really be done to improve things? Yes. But they have to be well thought out, future oriented ideas. Not frivolous and ridiculous concepts like forced car pooling or not allowing odd numbered cars to run on certain days. That simply shows the lack of creativity in the policy makers.

  1. The first and foremost step in the right direction would be to concentrate all energies towards educating ‘each and every’ licence holder (YES, I KNOW WHAT I SAID – EACH AND EVERY DRIVING LICENCE HOLDER) about traffic rules. More than 80% if the people who, hold licences, simply do not know certain basic road usage rules! This is not a small task and may be spread over a couple of years. To make things easier, the educating process can be incorporated even at the stage of renewing licences and make it mandatory to get a renewed licence

  2. Completely overhaul the licencing procedures. Make a traffic rules examination absolutely compulsory along with a driving test. This examination can be made most effective when it will be a multiple choice question set which covers everything from road signs to signalling to parking, etc.

  3. The RTOs need to be transparent when issuing licences. They can outsource the knowledge testing part to private parties so that there is no resource crunch in the RTOs themselves.

Now the above three rules make a very utopian assumption that the people will be willing to change! LOL!! If that assumption were true, then we wouldnt be talking about unlocking anything anyway!!!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Metamorphosis says:

    I agree that this campaign is not enough to bring about the kind of change that B’lore should get.

    If carpooling were a solution, then this problem would have resolved a lot earlier. Perhaps, the new Metro and such like initiatives would be able to alleviate the problem somewhat. That too would ruin the beauty of B’lore.

    I’m still surprised why the govt. is not thinking of building underground paths. That would not harm B’lore and still do a lot more for the city.

  2. Sushanta says:

    This is great challenge to implement in India and it may take ages for each one to understand the value of your comments. I just tried to convince the same to my friends college days and finally gave up.
    But we should try to educate our surrondings as much we can to our potential.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s